My first album cover assignment - hard to belive its almost 25 years ago and having grown up in the 70's/80's around the Classic Rock Scene, I had a clear idea of just how I wanted an album to be. This view was from the angle of a music fan, rather than the designer. It was an exciting time with Computers and software development - Apple Mac was beginning to be the choice of designers and the industry standard of 'digital design' but this was still very much in its infancy.
How do I design?
I work using initial sketches, scanning these sketches and creating visuals. Printing the same visuals and sketching on top of these. Printing again and re-sketching, scanning and printing. It could be up to half a dozen times before I had a true concept and idea of form. Growing up and loving the works of M.C. Esher and Dahli and then looking at the amazing albums of Hipgnosis and Roger Dean - The covers of Pink Floyd, 10C.C., Yes, Uriah Heep and my all time favourite band UFO. Iconic album covers such as Phenomenon, No Heavy Petting, Force It, Lights Out and Obsession. This continued to progress into the 80's with the 12" gatefold album cover my favourite format. Reading the lyrics and listening to the music, all one amazing experience.
In 1991 I now I had an opportunity to design my first album cover for an amazing rock band, Beats Working. John Hardman who had been with EMI records in the seventees with his band 'Sunfighter' and appearing on 'Top Of The Pops'. I drew from my inspiration, a work by M.C. Escher titled 'An Adaptation of Relativity'. I loved the idea of combining real life with sketches and the impossible illusions that Escher created. To sell the idea to the band, a visual consisted of my three favourite guitarists, Michael Schenker, Brian May and Tony Iommi. SOLD - the band loved it - I added additional doors, guitars and band logo's to the scene, blending my reality with the relativity of Escher and Beats Working. Colourising the scene to a single colour, cyan - this contrasted with the bright yellow 'Beats Working' logo. The three band members, John Hardman, Lynn Sheppard and Chris Glover These band members were in full colour and although part of the scene, clearly stood out. Making them scaled, 'larger than the scene' making them seem 'larger than life', rather than just blending in. 'Putting It About', the album cover was created.
Using a combination of Adobe Illustator, Photoshop and QuarkXpress, the artwork was output as 4-colour eps sep. artwork. The typsetter provided me with films and I then took this to the CD manufacturer,
MAKING RECORDS, who were based in Battersea, London and close to the iconic Battersea Power Station. They hadn't seen film output direct from a computer before and we were told that it was a first for them. Cutting edge technology. Sadly the output ended with the dots too large and although the artwork created was 300dpi, the QuarkXpress film out put was set at only 60 lines per inch. Not the fault of MAKING but of the typsetter who output te films. Technology has moved on since but the CD printing made the artwork look as if it had been printed on canvas. The Audio cassette was printed some weeks later and the typesetter must have got it right as these were perfect.
Formats: CD and Audio cassette
The "Adaptation of Relativity" image was created by Escher in a square format, which was perfect for the CD cover but for the audio cassette, I had to paint-in and recreate the rest of the scene - See below for detailed changes.
Visual Sketches - Original Beats Working Logo - 4 impossible acoustic guitar ideas with the final (far right) guitar ending up on the album cover:
Concept Visual - Tony Iommi, Michael Schenker and Brian May
CD booklet Front and Rear Cover - Note the impossible Escher style photo frames
Cassette Layout - The artwork below Beats Working drummer, Chris Glover had to be re-drawn to fill the rectangular shaped area of the audio cassette format cover:
John Hardman with Sunfighter
All things are possible, even the improbable or to quote Escher 'We adore chaos because we love to produce order.'